Founded in 1858, Pine Street Presbyterian Church is the second-oldest Presbyterian Church in Harrisburg. A group of forty-two members, led by James McCormick, Jr., left the English Presbyterian (later Market Square) congregation over theological differences and established the Presbyterian Church of Harrisburg. They erected an elegant Gothic Revival church at Pine and Third Streets. [photos of original exterior & interior] Through the years, leaders in all aspects of community life have contributed generously of their talents, abilities and monetary resources to support parish activities. This enduring level of individual participation has given Pine Street Church a prestigious voice in the community and in the denomination.
Worship services during the first year were held in a variety of places including the Senate chamber of the Capitol. Ashbel Green Simonton, a member of the congregation, who became an ordained missionary and founded the Presbyterian Church in Brazil, laid the building’s cornerstone on May 12, 1859.. The original church structure was designed by Harrisburg architect, Luther M. Simon. In 1926 an extensive expansion, led by internationally known architect Ralph Adams Cram,[photo] was completed, giving us the beautiful building we enjoy today.
In 1916, Pine Street’s Boyd Building was established to provide local men and boys numerous recreational programs under Christian auspices. There were bowling and basketball leagues, football and baseball teams, a summer camp, motion pictures, storytelling hours, checker tournaments, a boys’ orchestra, glee club and a drum corps. By 1938 there were as many as thirty-two basketball teams. [photos of bowling, pool tables, basketball team] Over the years Pine Street has continued its outreach through the Boyd based on the changing needs of the community. It has been home to a coffee house, nursery kindergarten school, programs for older adults, and an inter-racial, inter-ethnic, inter-faith experience for children called Camp Understanding. Since 1981 the Boyd has been home to Downtown Daily Bread, which provides a nutritional lunch 7 days a week, 360 days a year to Harrisburg’s homeless and economically disadvantaged.
For a fascinating, in-depth account of Pine Street’s history, copies of A Birthplace and Nursery To Multitudes of Souls by local historian Susan E. Meehan are available by contacting the church office. Cost of the book is free to members and $20 for non-members.